Sometimes I find myself creating boundaries and then just as quickly breaking them. Not because I feel like the boundaries are not necessary but in order to appease or please someone else. When I put that other person’s wants or whims ahead of my own needs I break my own trust. Another way this happens is when I set a time limit for unpleasant tasks, but don’t stop as planned. When I have a boring task, like cleaning a room or organizing emails – I tell myself I will only do these tasks for forty-five minutes and an hour later I’m still at it. When this happens I feel drained and angry because I pushed past my boundary. These tasks are never-ending, they need to be done but not at the cost of my joy or personal trust.
The key I am finding to facing these realities is don’t lie to yourself or anyone else. For example when I wrote “cleaning for an hour,” please read, “dusting for 20 minutes.” There we are beginning with honesty. Another way I can be honest with myself is knowing I only have 10 minutes to give, I don’t have to push myself to 15.
The good thing is that building trust is a simple and intentional practice of small steps. When I set a limit, I stick to it and pay attention to how I feel. I also try to reward myself for sticking to the boundary to reinforce my commitment to respecting myself.
As we work toward trusting ourselves and building healthy boundaries, remember that we are all works in progress. Treat yourself as a small child or your dearest friend – don’t yell at them for making a mistake or for getting something wrong. You might ask if they want a cookie and let them rest when they’re tired. We would never hold someone to an impossible standard and then insult or reprimand them if they made a mistake – so why would we do this to ourselves?
Sometimes the best gift you can give yourself is grace. We all need to feel nurtured and whole so that we are strong enough to try again later. When we are kind to ourselves we are more likely to return again. Boundaries can give us the comfort and security we need but they have to stem from a place of safety. Give yourself a little forgiveness and a little understanding, chances are you need it. You know where things worked and where they didn’t, beating yourself up about it doesn’t add anything to the experience. Be gentle with you, you’re the only one we’ve got! Sending love, patience, forgiveness, and strength from my heart to yours. As we learn and grow, and get better every day.
What are some ways you show kindness to yourself when you don’t keep a boundary you intended to hold? What are some ways you can be generous to yourself when you’re feeling frustrated or down?